By Raymond Britt
The legendary classic rock band Boston lands in Chicago for a concert loaded with unforgettable hits, backed by a literally patented and trademarked sound system. Boston's debut album, released 38 years ago, has sold more than 17 million copies, and remains one of the most popular albums on today's classic rock charts.
Boston doesn't often undertake big tours (only 13 since 1976); this will be only the band's third show in Chicago since 2004. Boston last played live in Chicago in 2008, a terrific concert at the lakefront pavilion by the Adler Planetarium. This year's event will also be performed along the lake, at Montrose Beach.
Tom Scholz, the band's everything -- founder, writer, multi-instrumentalist, recording engineer and producer, holder of 34 patents used in the design of Boston's Rockman stage guitar effects and amplification, and named one of the 'Top 10 Smartest Musicians' by Time Magazine' -- promises a concert filled with all the hits Boston fans want to hear and more. Those include 'More Than a Feeling', 'Rock and Roll Band', 'Foreplay/Long Time', 'Smokin', 'Don't Look Back', 'Party', and 'Amanda'.
The Heaven on Earth Tour, as it's known, comes on the heels of Boston's recently released sixth studio album (which took ten years to complete), 'Life, Love and Hope'. The new album has some great music, and we expect to hear a couple of the best new songs performed.
In addition to a terrific set list, there's an even better reason to attend a concert: The Boston Sound. If you think the records sound great, you'll be blown away by the live excellence of Scholz's superior, custom-designed guitar gear that gives the band an unparalleled rock sound. Of course, it's also great musicianship that brings the audio to its peak.
Gary Pihl, lead guitarist and Scholz's go-to guy for everything else Boston-related, has been with Boston for 28 years (and with Sammy Hagar before that). A former 10-year Chicago area resident (Mount Prospect, Park Ridge), Pihl is particularly excited when it comes to describing the band and how the handle the dynamics of bringing the band's rich sonic complexities to life.
Boston is well-known for its ambitious guitar overdubbing, with several guitars playing at once -- sounding like a guitar orchestra, at times) on songs like 'Don't Look Back.' Impossible to recreate that multi-tracked sound on stage?
'Not at all,' Pihl said, explaining, 'we have four guitarists on stage this year: Tom, myself, Kimberly Dahme, who played bass last tour, and David Victor have all the parts covered, and it'll sound great.' Rounding out the band on stage will be Tommy DeCarlo on lead vocals, keyboards and percussion, Tracy Ferrie on bass, and Jeff Neal on drums. Each band member contributes vocals and multi-layer harmonies that top off the uniqueness of The Boston Sound.
Great bands like Boston can make complicated songs look easy on stage, without the audience noticing the technical instrumental dexterity required to make the music seem seamless. But extreme chops are demanded on several of Boston's best live numbers.
The best example? 'Tell your readers and concert-goers to pay close attention when we play the 10+ minute 'Walk On' Suite, which has the band in constant motion, whether it's Tom switching from guitar to organ and back, or all the changes we all undertake throughout. It's a tough one, but the audience will love it.'
Having witnessed it myself at Boston's 2008 show here, I can assure you this year's concert, start to finish, will be one you don't want to miss.